THUNDER BAY -- The term ‘civic holiday’ lacks a certain aura of festivity.
“Civic Holiday means nothing to people,” city resident Darren Wright said Sunday. “It just means a day off. I think giving the day a name gives the day a purpose. It definitely needs a name.”
Our neighbours to the west agreed, as Manitoba this past week announced they would rename the day in honour of Canadian icon Terry Fox.
With Terry Fox concluding his Marathon of Hope just east of the city, many people believe the name should be adopted here as well.
Angele Dubois lived in Thunder Bay in the past and was re-visiting this weekend from the Northwest Territories. She said the Terry Fox Scenic Lookout is one of her favourite places in the city.
She is on board with putting his name on the day and believes it will help further his legacy.
“He’s an inspiration for a lot of Canadians and why not celebrate him instead of a civic holiday,” Dubois said.
“It would give more recognition to what he did and tried to do. I think it would definitely add to the holiday and put a story behind it.”
While Michael Leach acknowledged it is important to celebrate historical political figures such as first Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald, he said selecting Fox would far less divisive.
The impacts made by Fox resonate a lot more with the current generations, said the Orangeville resident.
“As Canadians I don’t think we do enough to really celebrate our heroes and Terry Fox is a Canadian hero because of what has been accomplished in cancer research,” Leach said.
The holiday has also been given other names across the country, as it is known as Natal Day in Nova Scotia, Heritage Day in Alberta as well as Saskatchewan Day and British Columbia Day in those respective provinces.
Ontario has stood pat with the Civic Holiday name, as has Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
However, there are a few places in the province where the holiday has been given a name.
Torontonians celebrate Simcoe Day on the first Monday of August, recognizing John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant of Upper Canada.
Meanwhile, Col. By Day is celebrated in Ottawa to pay tribute to Lt.-Col. John By, who founded what would become the nation’s capital while he oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal.
There are at least a dozen other communities in Ontario that have gone ahead and renamed the day.
Wright said Thunder Bay should follow the lead of those communities and said Fox is a perfect candidate.
“I think the city should look at it and not just wait for the province,” Wright said.
“He’s an icon here.”
Leach agreed, saying the Terry Fox Scenic Lookout is well-known to many people in the southern areas of the province and an almost mandatory stop when driving through the area.
“This is an important stop in the history of Terry Fox, the (Marathon of Hope) and cancer research,” he said.
“When people talk about Thunder Bay, Terry Fox is one of the things they talk about when they talk about this area.”
Coun. Larry Hebert said he is fine with the civic holiday moniker though he would support renaming the day in honour of a historical figure.
He also had a couple suggestions of his own to pay homage to Ontario.
Hebert mentioned the possibilities of either Amethyst Day or Trillium Day, to recognize the provincial gemstone and flower.
Those two names would make the holiday unique to Ontario, he said.
An unscientific poll conducted by tbnewswatch.com on Sunday showed more than 55 per cent of respondents by mid-afternoon would support the province should Ontario follow Manitoba’s lead.
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